Key opens first cycleway segment

Move aside giant carrot. Ohakune is also to be known for its cycle track.

Prime Minister John Key today opened the first part of a 200km Ruapehu to Whanganui New Zealand Cycle Trail project at Old Coach Road, in Ohakune.

The Old Coach Road segment of the Ruapehu to Whanganui Nga Ara Tuhono trail is the beginning of a network of inter-connected trails which will pass through some of New Zealand's most spectacular and historically-significant scenery, Mr Key said.

"When completed, this trail will take cyclists through the Tongariro and Whanganui National Parks, past the famous Bridge to Nowhere, the Hapuawhenua Viaduct and many marae along the Whanganui River Road."

Also opened today as part of the first stage of the trail is a route through the Mangapurua Valley in the Whanganui National Park.

"The completed trail will be a fantastic four-to six-day cycle tour, and will open up a stunning part of the country to tourists," Mr Key said.

It is estimated the Ruapehu to Whanganui trail will bring in up to $3 million per year for the local economy through tourism.

"This trail is one of seven Quick Start projects for the New Zealand Cycle Trail, and will be one of the first to have significant portions of it open to cyclists," Mr Key said.

"Once all the trails are completed, there will be series of great rides throughout the country for New Zealanders and overseas visitors alike to experience."

The trail is one of the three in which the Department of Conservation is developing in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism.

The Green Party is working with the Government on the network and one of its MPs, Kevin Hague, welcomed the developments today and said once the network was complete it would be for more than tourists.

"The long-term vision for this project is for a network of cycling routes and tracks throughout the country that can be used by tourists and recreational riders, but eventually by people also riding to work or the supermarket, and kids riding to school," Mr Hague said.

"The Prime Minister and I have previously acknowledged that quiet, back-country links into and around towns and cities will need to be part of the network. These links also have the potential to add thousands of additional kilometres and substantial benefits to Nga Haerenga (national cycleway) with relatively little extra cost."

- NZPA

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